North Haven Cross Country Hosts First Home Meet of the Year
Senior captain Patrick Rourke came in seventh place to help the North Haven boys’ cross country team gain a split of its tri-meet against Sheehan and Xavier at Wharton Brook State Park on Oct. 7. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Nick Howlett and the North Haven boys’ cross country squad earned their first win of the year with a 25-34 victory versus Sheehan last week. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Taya Stanley is leading the North Haven girls’ cross country team alongside junior captain Riley Minns this fall. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
The North Haven cross country program held its first home meet of the season when its boys’ and girls’ teams both hosted tri-meets at Wharton Brook State Park on Oct. 7. The boys’ team split its meet by earning a 25-34 victory over Sheehan for its win on the year, while also taking a 20-35 defeat against Xavier. The North Haven girls’ squad took a 19-36 loss versus Sheehan and also lost to Mercy by a 15-50 score at the meet.
North Haven’s home meet marked its second competition of the 2020 fall season after the team had started off the year with a road meet against Hamden and Guilford on Oct. 1. North Haven will host Lyman Hall for its second home meet this week.
Carl Jackson is in his 23rd year as head coach of the North Haven cross country program. Jackson feels glad that North Haven’s runners are getting a chance to compete this fall and is looking forward to watching them progress throughout the season.
“I am very happy with the fact that we are able to compete, and the athletes are also happy to be back and competing,” Jackson said. “Every year, it’s a challenge, but the thing that overrides that challenge is being able to work with the athletes and seeing them develop from when they come to the team to when they leave the team as seniors, and the happiness that you see in them over the years.”
North Haven has had to play catchup after many of its athletes lost their spring track seasons as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Coach Jackson said that his runners were able to put in work during the recent offseason and are beginning to make strides now that the campaign is underway.
“They have been really working hard, and their hard work is starting to pay off. We have a bigger team, and we’re seeing a lot more of the younger athletes starting to contribute,” said Jackson, who is also head coach of the North Haven girls’ outdoor track team. “They are not looking back to the spring. They are looking forward. They know what they need to do, and they come to practice ready to get better.”
Senior captain Patrick Rourke turned in the top performance for the North Haven boys’ team when it hosted Sheehan and Xavier last week. Rourke crossed the finish line with a time of 18 minutes and 10 seconds to take seventh place overall on the 3.1-mile course. Senior captain Nick Howlett came in eighth place with a time of 18:22, while fellow senior Aaron Barbiero timed in at 18:40 to finish in ninth place for North Haven.
Junior Mike Rubano took 10th place by posting a time of 18:50, and senior Jason Tong finished in 11th place with a mark of 18:58 for Coach Jackson’s squad. Senior captain Tiernan Neville ran a time of 19:13 to finish in 13th place, while junior Luke Nugent finished in 18th at 20:05.
Coach Jackson said that North Haven performed better at this meet than it did in its opening meet of the season. Jackson felt that it was big for North Haven put its first win in the books by defeating Sheehan.
“We weren’t happy with the results from our first meet, so we worked on some things at practice, and the result was a win for the boys. They were excited,” Jackson said. “We wanted to get our top returning athletes to run as more of a group throughout the race. The bounceback win did a lot for the team, and I said to them to that what they’re doing in practice is starting to pay off.”
Sophomore Payton Orosco delivered the top showing for the North Haven girls’ team by finishing in eighth place with a time of 23:38 for the 5K at Wharton Brook. Junior captain Riley Minns finished in 12th place with a time of 25:39, while fellow junior Caitlyn McFarland posted a mark of 26:51 to finish in 17th place for the race.
Sophomore Carina Esposito ran a time of 27:27 to finish in 18th place, and senior captain Taya Stanley finished in 21st place with a time of 28:07 for North Haven. Freshman Jade Lewis came in 22nd place with a mark of 28:13, while junior Sophia Melillo finished in 23rd place with a time of 28:24 for Coach Jackson’s team.
“When you look at the girls’ team, you are looking at a team that is rebuilding. This is a very young team,” said Jackson, whose assistant coach is volunteer Nancy Schreiber. “We’re seeing some improvement with our top runners. We’re trying to get the other runners to push the top runners in order to finish higher in our meets.”
After hosting Lyman Hall this week, North Haven will be back on the trails to take on East Haven and Daniel Hand at the Madison Surf Club on Wednesday, Oct. 21. North Haven’s final regular-season meet is scheduled for the following week.
“I’m hoping to see some wins in the next few weeks,” Jackson said. “My goal is to get a couple of wins and see the teams compete similarly with the runners closer together at the front of the race.”